7½ Food Lessons I Learnt in 2012

On the evening of December the thirty-first, two thousand & twelve, I was busy being a hermit and cooking dinner. Unlike the previous year, we’d decided to stay away from the hours-long metro lines & traffic jams that awaited all who ventured out that evening to catch the fireworks at the Burj Khalifa. I’ve never […]

Fusilli with Sausage, Peppers & Herbs

Fusilli with Sausage, Peppers & Herbs
Mostly leftovers and odds and ends from the previous Pizza-making effort. Start to finish in less than 30 minutes, and delicious.


Lemon Butter Mint Bucatini

Lemon Butter Mint Bucatini

Bucatini with a lemon-butter sauce, mint, parsley, chilli flakes, garlic, onion and black pepper, fried breadcrumbs, pecorino romano. This is lunch.


Eggplant Zucchini Lasagne

eggplant zucchini lasagne

There’s something both simple & complex about lasagne; it’s an elaborate dish, but one that comes together over several hours of slowly-simmering sauces and carefully-roasted vegetables. This is a fairly simple one, just roasted eggplant & zucchini slices, a tomato sauce, and bechamel, stuffed between layers of noodles and topped with mozzarella cheese.

The very definition of comfort food.


Bacon, Zucchini & Sundried Tomato Gnocchi

bacon gnocchi 01

This is lunch.

Sometimes I need to raid my fridge and pantry to put together odds and ends that aren’t quite enough for individual larger dishes, marrying pantry staples such as pastas with stray vegetables that will spoil in a short while.

The results can be delicious, such as this dish. The Gnocchi (a pillow-like morsel made of potato flour, pronounced nyo-kee) was bought from the store and pan fried in a little butter, which gives it a bit of crispness (they can be boiled like fresh pastas too). The sauce was some turkey bacon browned, then garlic, onion & celery, followed by chunks of zucchini, then tomato, and finished with a spoonful of sundried tomato paste and a little squeeze of harissa. No water was added. The prepared gnocchi was stirred in and left covered for a few minutes to soak up the sauce, then finally tossed with a good handful of chopped parsley.

bacon gnocchi 02


A Hankering for Noodles

ingredients for fried noodles
I am a lazy cook. No other way to say it. I have no patience for slowly stirred sauces, carefully watched pots, or preparations that need fifteen different components plated at the last minute. If it all sits together in a bowl and I can eat it with one utensil, then so much the better.

I am also a stubborn cook. Stir fries have often tantalised me, and every time I try my hand at one I learn a little more, make it a little better. I’m at the stage now where I can’t quite bang out a hundred plates of noodles that all look and taste the same, but the outcome is generally tasty, and even when my own pantry conspires to throw me a curveball, I can generally deal with it.

Today’s conundrum: the urge to eat fried noodles, with all the correct ingredients I like in fried noodles — except for noodles themselves. The closest thing I had was a packet of linguine — not the regular kind, which is a fine substitute for stir fries (spaghetti is too), but a dark green basil flavoured one.

Nevertheless, I soldiered on, and above is almost everything that went into it besides salt, pepper, oil and a last minute squirt of Sriracha, i.e.: an egg (fried as an omelet, cooled, cut into strips), noodles, celery, carrot, baby corn, garlic, asparagus, mushrooms — and mixed for the sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar, and sesame oil.

plate of chinese fried noodles made with linguine
Put them all together and you get this. It didn’t taste half bad, though after a while the taste of basil completely disappeared, and that was a bit disappointing. Guess the noodles would benefit from a more delicate saucing than being tossed around in soy sauce, sugar and sesame oil until good old Maillard reactions do their magic.

close up of chinese fried noodles made with linguine



A bowl of broccoli and pepper fusilli on a newspaper
A rack of small spice bottles
several hindu bronze and stone idols after washing